17 dead, 44 missing in China landslides

Landslides slammed into three mountain hamlets in western China early today, killing 17 people and leaving 44 missing, while crews drained an engorged reservoir in another part of the country following heavy rains.

The landslides swept through the rural communities in three different areas before dawn, state media said.

In the worst-hit town of Xiaohe in Yunnan province, rescuers searched for 42 people while an additional four were dead and 38 injured, the official provincial newspaper Yunnan Daily said in a report on its website.

In neighbouring Sichuan province, seven died and one person was still missing in Yandai village, while in Sima village rescuers recovered six bodies and were searching for one person, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, water in a reservoir near the far western city of Golmud began to subside today after hundreds of workers and soldiers finished digging a diversion channel, an official at the Qinghai province water bureau said.

At one point the reservoir swelled to a metre above its warning level, the Golmud city government’s website said.

Over the weekend, about 10,000 residents were evacuated to safety as soldiers transported sandbags, rocks and dirt and used bulldozers to dig the emergency waterway, the website said.

Nevertheless, parts of Golmud – a transport and mining hub on the edge of the Tibetan plateau – were already under two metres of water, Xinhua reported.

Usually prone to drought, Qinghai has seen increasingly heavier rainfalls in recent years. This year’s rains fell as the snow melted in the surrounding mountains. Dozens of reservoirs swelled beyond their warning levels, said the official from the water bureau.

Heavy rain is expected to sweep through the Yangtze River basin – including Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces – tomorrow, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Parts of China experience annual flooding. In the first 10 days of July, torrential rains have caused more than 50 deaths and economic losses of 8.9 billion yuan (€1.04m), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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